Grosse Ile teacher to be tried on lewd behavior charges
Woodhaven — A Grosse Ile Township school teacher was ordered Tuesday to stand trial on charges of exposing himself and engaging in indecent behavior as children practiced sports in a nearby park.
Christopher Metzger, 37, of Trenton, was given a $15,000 bond during a preliminary examination in 33rd District Court and scheduled for an arraignment on information at 9 a.m. Oct. 22 in Wayne County Circuit Court.
He is charged with a count of aggravated indecent exposure and a count of disorderly person-obscene conduct. The indecent exposure charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in jail. The disorderly person charge is also a misdemeanor with a 93-day penalty.
Only two witnesses were called: a Grosse Ile resident who testified that he saw Metzger masturbating in his vehicle, and a Grosse Ile police detective who investigated the claim.
Authorities said Metzger was in his car at Commerce Park about 6 p.m. Aug. 28 when the resident who testified, retired Marine Michael Nappa, said he saw Metzger masturbating "inside his gym shorts while leaning back in the driver's seat, and his eyes appeared to be closed." Young athletes were practicing nearby in the park, according to Nappa.
The incident was reported to police, who arrested Metzger.
A week later, Grosse Ile Township Schools suspended Metzger and banned him from school property and events.
At the conclusion of the preliminary exam, Judge Michael McNally said, "The issue here is probable cause that this crime was committed. Probable cause does exist and he will be bound over."
He then issued restrictions to Metzger, saying, among other things, he was not to enter the school grounds or Commerce Park.
Nappa said his sons were attending a football practice at the park Aug. 28.
"I smoke," he began, "and I usually go out to my car to smoke once or twice during practice. I went to my truck.to smoke a cigarette, and when I went to go back to the field, I noticed Metzger in his truck masturbating."
He said he then walked around the back of Metzger's vehicle to the passenger side and "looked directly at him through the window." He described in detail what he saw. Both the assistant prosecuting attorney, Lara Nercessian, and the defense counsel, James Murray, questioned Nappa about the details of what he saw.
"I went closer to look directly into the passenger window," Nappa said. "There was not a doubt in my mind what he was doing when I looked in the passenger window."
Asked how long he observed, he said, "About three seconds."
Nappa said he did not immediately report to the police, but instead told a friend who also was at the practice, then reported it to a leader in his sports organization, the Grosse Ile Youth Recreation Association, before it eventually was reported to the police.
Asked by Murray why it was not reported at the time he saw it, or why he did not tap on the window and let Metzger know he was there, Nappa said if he could have a do-over, he probably would have "ripped him out of his vehicle."
He also said the reason he did not immediately contact the police was, "I was completely blown away by what I saw, and it did not cross my mind at the time."
In the hallway following the exam, Murray told The Detroit News, "I believe in Chris's innocence. I know him away from this. He is a good man, married 13 years, has two children, and his wife is here supporting him. There also are a lot of people in the school who support him."
He said much of Nappa's testimony was inconsistent.
"I look forward to winning the case at trial," he said.